Overwhelmed newbie - could use some help and solidarity!
Hi all -
I posted here briefly a couple of years ago immediately after we moved to our house in Maryland, but Real Life intervened and I never really got to grips with the yard (although I hope the kind souls who sent me private messages received my replies - I was so grateful for the warm welcome!)
In any case, this summer has been the first chance I've really had to start addressing this long-neglected jungle. We're in the plannign stages of a larger remodel which includes a new deck and porch repair as well as some internal work so, since I had the whole summer off this year, I've had time to work on the garden (such as it is) as well.
And I am now THOROUGHLY overwhelmed! My only prior gardening experience was tending a long-established and easy maintenance cottage-style garden in Europe, and starting from scratch - less than scratch, in fact, since we're having to clear before we can even consider planting! - is proving... daunting.
In any case, I would welcome suggestions. This climate around Baltimore county is not always the most plant-friendly (except, it seems for Rose of Sharon bushes and some vine-weed-thing which grows faster than we can cut it down!), and I'm using this time to research as much as possible so that I plant things which will be (relatively) low maintenance as well as ornamental :)
Here are the two areas I'm currently working on:
Side yard with the ugliest fence EVER. It was covered in ivy, poison ivy and Nameless Fast Growing Vine, which my neighbour and I have spent all summer Rounding Up, pulling, and removing. The small maple just visible has been dug up and given to my builder (there are two others just out of shot - trees are something we do NOT need more of!). My hope is to plant a bs-resistant, repeat-blooming climbing rose there, although today I noted with some horror that the afternoon shadow from next door moves across earlier than I realised. However, I'm willing to give New Dawn, Cecile Brunner or the Knockout-relative "Brite Eyes" a try and see how we go. Any other suggestions?
This photo shows the REALLY overwhelming patch. Until a week ago, it was entirely covered in 6ft high of the brush you can see just behind the fence; we're NEARLY down to the ground on both sides of the fence - I think one more batch of pulling and clearing should do it. The good news is that the newly-exposed ground(up against the neighbour's fence) is GLORIOUS soil where the weeds have mulched it down for years (and I think they're might have been another tree there at some poing since there's evidence of stumps); unlike the rest of the rocky, clay-y, sand-y soil around here, this is deep, rich soft dirt that looks (to the newbie eye) like compost. I'm again cosidering a climbing rose that can mask that awful fence and screen us fom the back alley (maybe Clair Matin or, perhaps something bigger like New Dawn -t he land behind the fence is ours too, so it doesn't matter if we spread out a bit) but am starting to wonder what on earth to put there as well.
I was considering either a burning bush or crape myrtle in the corner to help raise the eye and even out the site visually, a Limelight hydrangea (just purchased on sale for half price - it needs a home!) just to the left of the Rose of Sharon, some peonies near the front/middle, some cinquefoil (how tall does it get round here?), some daylilies by the gate, a couple of red or pink Knockout rose bushes just cuz I love roses and I know they'll survive and...? I have azaleas in the front so I'm not necessarily keen to "shrub up" back here, but easy care does remain a top priority.
Thanks so much for reading this long post, and for any ideas. This is an amazing web resource!